Country Report for the World University Debating Championships 2000 – 2001
Clarification of Canada’s Position on the Inns Question The State of Canadian Debating
The Definition of Institution
The Canadian University Society governs Canadian debating for Intercollegiate Debate (CUSID). Though there is no formal definition of “institution” in our constitution, it is generally agreed upon that an institution is any degree or diploma granting body approved by the relevant provincial ministry.
Traditionally, the definition of institution has not posed a problem in Canada since there are less than 25 recognized post-secondary degree-granting institutions and diploma-granting institutions have traditionally not participated in debating activities.
The Canadian position is that the World University Debating Championships should be restricted to debating societies organized at post-secondary institutions that grant a degree or diploma on the condition of full-time or part-time study. The advent of virtual universities and “mail-order” universities will require careful attention of the Worlds Council. For example, students at Century University can receive a degree by mail-order and Canada believes that such institutions should not be allowed to compete at the World University Debating Championships. On the other hand, virtual or correspondence universities might be included if it can be demonstrated that student representatives participate in course-based learning.
The Issue of Advanced Degrees
In CUSID, debaters may compete at CUSID-sanctioned tournaments (i.e. regional or national championship tournaments) provided that they are full-time students, regardless of whether they are undergraduate, professional or graduate students. Part-time students may compete at CUSID-sanctioned tournaments if they have not competed for five years previously regardless of their academic standing.
There is an additional requirement that students be attached to a member of CUSID. CUSID members are outlined in Schedule A of the CUSID Constitution and are required to pay an annual fee to CUSID. An individual completing professional courses (i.e. bar admissions courses) could not compete at a CUSID-sanctioned tournament unless their institution and, by extension, their debating society was recognized by CUSID. Currently, there are no professional educational institutions recognized by CUSID and there is a strong convention that suggests they would not be granted recognition.
The Canadian position is that the Inns of Court and other equivalent professional institutions should not be allowed to compete at the World University Debating Championships. Though students enrolled in the Legal Practice Course are full-time students, they are trainee solicitors who have completed their formal education. The argument that the Inns have been traditionally allowed to compete at the WUDC is irrelevant, especially in light of the growing number of institutions competing at the WUDC. Their participation in the past does not require their participation at future WUDC.
Alternatively, Canada believes that if the Inns and other LPC institutions are allowed to compete, than equivalent institutions from other states should be allowed to compete as well. For example, students undertaking the Bar Admissions Course (BAC) through the Law Society of Upper Canada participate in four months of full-time study and are eligible for financial assistance through the Ministry of Education. Also, BAC students are “student members” of the Bar Association, the same way that LPC students are “student members” of the The Law Society in the United Kingdom. The only difference between the LPC in the United Kingdom and the BAC in Canada is that the full-time study terms in Canada are interrupted by full-time employment for ten months.
Multiple Societies at the Same Institution
In CUSID, only a handful of institutions have multiple debating societies. The most obvious is the University of Toronto, though engineering and law faculties have been granted membership in CUSID on a case-by-case basis. All debating societies seeking membership in CUSID must be approved at the CUSID Annual General Meeting and there is a strong convention that prohibits multiple debating societies at the same institution unless these debating societies cater to different constituencies. The University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario are the only Canadian universities with an independent college system and, as such, these colleges have independent debating societies. Osgoode Hall Law School at York University and the Faculty of Engineering at Queenâ€™s University co-exist with campus-wide debating societies because of their special constituencies. For example, Osgoode Hall mostly participates in mooting activities whereas the Faculty of Engineering at Queenâ€™s University trains students for the Ontario Engineering Debating Competition. Multiple societies also exist at bilingual universities, such as the University of Ottawa, where there is an English Debating Society and a Society de Debat Francais.
The Canadian position is that multiple debating societies from the same institution should be discouraged unless a strong tradition of independent debating exists at these universities. Alternatively, the Worlds Council must have a strong reporting and enforcement mechanism to ensure that institutions, through the creation of multiple debating societies, are not abusing the n-1 rule. Canada believes that the WUDC organizing committee should be in contact with national representatives well in advance of the WUDC to ensure that teams not in compliance do not mistakenly arrive at the WUDC. In addition, Worlds Council might consider creating a Schedule of societies authorized to compete at future championships. This schedule could be amended on recommendation of the national representative at the preliminary Worlds Council meeting.